Google Expands Office Software
Google Inc. plans to launch software similar to Microsoft Corp.'s popular
PowerPoint program as the two companies vie to dominate the online experience.
Google Chairman and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt described the software Tuesday
at a conference for Internet entrepreneurs. He also blasted Microsoft and AT&T
Inc., whose executives complained over the weekend that Google may soon have
an illegal monopoly in online advertising.
Google announced Friday it would pay $3.1 billion to acquire ad-management
technology company DoubleClick Inc. Almost as soon as Google announced the cash
acquisition, Microsoft and AT&T executives said the deal could violate antitrust
legislation -- and result in a dangerous concentration of Internet users' personal
data at Mountain View-based Google.
But Schmidt, noting that Microsoft and AT&T have had their share of antitrust
skirmishes, retorted, "Give me a break."
"They're wrong," Schmidt said. "It's false."
The verbal volleys come as Microsoft and Google escalate the rivalry to control
how people use the Internet. Microsoft has long dominated the computer desktop
with its Windows operating system. But people are increasingly using home pages,
bookmarks, search engines and other Web-based programs to determine where they
shop, how they communicate and how they play videos, music and movies.
The two companies already offer e-mail, word processing and spreadsheet programs,
and other tools. Google's new presentation software will compete against Microsoft's
ubiquitous PowerPoint software that's part of its popular Office suite.
"This completes what most users of PCs consider the Office suite,"
said John Battelle, who leads Federated Media Publishing and grilled Schmidt
about the product at the conference.
Microsoft spokeswoman Lisa Koetz said competition is good for customers, and
Microsoft is listening to the 450 million people who use Microsoft Office to
ensure it is meeting their needs.
"The success we are seeing with the 2007 release of Microsoft Office tells
us we are heading in the right direction," Koetz said.
People use Google's software over the Internet and can simply log in from any
computer through a Web browser, while Microsoft Office must be installed on
an individual computer.
Google would not release more details about the presentation software, though
product manager Rajen Sheth said users would be able to store documents online
and let anyone with a free Google account view the slides, spreadsheets or documents
Google will give away two versions of the presentation software starting this
summer, and it will sell a "Premier" version with extra storage for
$50 per year. The presentation program is part of Google Docs & Spreadsheets,
which the company has been unveiling piecemeal for nearly a year.
Schmidt, who used a beta version to flash slides at the conference, downplayed
the Microsoft rivalry.
"It does not have all the functionality nor is it intended to have all
functionality of Microsoft Office," he said, but quickly added, "It
seems to be a better fit to how people use the Web."
Google announced the acquisition Tuesday of Tonic Systems Inc., a startup based
in San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia. The company specializes in collaborative
presentation software and is expected to contribute to future versions to Google's
productivity suite. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Google shares fell $1.47 to close Tuesday at $472.80 on the Nasdaq Stock Market,
where Microsoft shares gained 12 cents to $28.85.